LOS ANGELES — NBA superstar quarterback James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers are still finalizing the final details of a one-plus-one contract that will give him a $15 million rebate. But Harden said he was “locked in” at the Sixers and wanted to get to work.
In an exclusive interview with Yahoo Sports on Sunday, the 10-time All-Star revealed why he’s willing to sacrifice money to improve the team, he touched on the off-season, discussed where he’s physically, talked about his partnership with Joel Embiid and unveiled his first signature J-Harden wine collection. .
At the conclusion of the 2021–2022 season by the Sixers, depth was identified as a significant and egregious weakness. Shortly thereafter, Harden and 66ers basketball president Daryl Morey discussed how the team could make the leap next season.
“I had conversations with Daryl and they explained to me how we can improve and what the market value is for certain players. I told Daryl to improve the squad, sign the ones we need to sign, and give me everything that’s left,” Harden told Yahoo Sports. “That’s how much I want to win. I want to fight for the championship. That’s all that matters to me at this stage. I’m willing to take less so we can achieve this.”
The 66ers signed defenseman PJ Tucker from Miami for three years for $33 million; signed shooter Danuel House to a two-year, $8.5 million contract; took combo guard De’Anthony Melton via trade; and signed with Trevelyn Queen, G-League MVP of the 2021–22 season.
“I think we have a much stronger team,” Harden told Yahoo Sports. “This is what we wanted to solve. If you look at our team now, we can go much further. I like how we deal with the rest of the top teams.”
For the Sixers to reach their full potential, Harden will have to return to his usual dominant self. The 2018 MVP faced numerous ailments last season, including a delicate right hamstring injury.
He was heavily criticized for his performance during the 21 regular season games he played in Philadelphia after being traded from Brooklyn. His stats didn’t match his standard offense, but the 32-year-old veteran still averaged 21 points, 7.1 rebounds and 10.5 assists for the Sixers.
“I don’t really listen to what people say. I was wrong last season and I still almost averaged a triple-double,” Harden told Yahoo Sports. “If someone else had such numbers, we would say that they will receive the maximum. People used to see me averaging 40-30 points and thought this was a bad year. I was in Philadelphia for a couple of months and I had to learn on the fly. That’s what it was. I’m in good physical and mental health right now and I’m just looking forward to next season.”
Harden and fellow superstar Embiid will be tasked with getting everyone on the same wavelength.
“I talk to Joel often and we meet to discuss how we will play and what we need to do to help our team win the championship,” Harden told Yahoo Sports. “When you have two of the best players in their respective positions on the same team, that’s a great building block. We are going to grow together and will try to bring this team to the top. I believe we can do this together.”
Meanwhile, Harden explores his extrajudicial ventures.
He has teamed up with Accolade Wines to launch his first signature wine, “J-Harden”, which will be available for purchase online and through leading US retailers starting September 1st. The retail price is expected to be $16.99.
“Harden and his team will also play a role in the creative direction, design and style of the wine. The J-HARDEN label will feature an image of Harden’s iconic beard in vibrant colors and a floral design inside Harden’s face silhouette. “As a 10-time NBA All-Star and the third 3-point scorer in NBA history, Harden plans to share his personal wine journey with fans on his social media accounts and introduce J-HARDEN to retailers and consumers around the world.”
“I wanted to create a wine that was affordable, but at the same time had some value,” Harden told Yahoo Sports. “If you look at the design of our bottle, it stands out. There is some zest in this. It is different from all other wine bottles which are pretty much the same. We wanted it to stand out, and then we’ll hook you up with our great taste. We have California Cabernet Sauvignon and California Red Blend. So, we have something for all wine connoisseurs. I am very happy with this opportunity. I think consumers will really like it.”
Customers can register for their first access to J-HARDEN at www.j-hardenwines.com.
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